More like creepy ~ ‘Arousing Love’ by M. H. Strom #Review #COYER #BPRAT

Arousing Love A Teen Novel by M. H. StromWas this story a joke or serious? It is really hard to tell if someone is just having a laugh or really and truly earnestly believes this is what teens, specifically Christian teens, need to hear in order to stay on the straight and narrow. This is the first (and only, I’ll wager) Christian novel that I will read or review, mainly because the kind of Christianity hawked here is not what I believe. It is a weird combination of creepy, titillating, completely unrealistic and sermonizing.

Zach lives in a beach town where his parents run a local small grocery. He’s eighteen and out of high school, working for his parents, surfing and living in a shack behind his parents’ house. One day, he comes across a festival being run by a local campsite. He meets a couple of girls who are running one of the games, and he notices the blonde one. She flirts with him, but he thinks she’s way too young – especially when he discovers that she’s only fifteen.. But there’s something about her, and even though he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t mind when she talks to him about her faith. The more time he spends with her, the more he’s attracted to her in every way.
He’s an artist, and Joanna is quite interested in seeing some of his paintings, and she sees one painting in particular that initially repulses her. It’s a nude, but the longer she looks at it, the more she wants Zach to paint her the same way. She’s so conflicted about her feelings; when she and Zach kiss, they can’t stop. They both are afraid that things will go too far. The more they are around each other, the more they can see that they are meant to be together. But Joanna lives in Colorado, and Zach isn’t a Christian. What to do?

I’m going to stop right there. I can’t figure out who this book is written for. There’s a lot of descriptive kissing, groping and nakedness that is more apt to make any kid want to do it. The author thinks that all it takes is a Bible verse or two to calm everything down. I get it; maybe making the situation more real will keep some boy or girl reading/chaste. Luckily, the Divine Intervention Method works for these teens; apparently nothing cools down the ardor like understanding that when you have sex, you’re married in God’s eyes. (Wha?) This bon mot comes from the mouth of Joanna’s parents, one of many creeptastic encounters Zach has with them. But he’s not embarrassed or put off by these frank discussions with these people that he’s never met before. (I think the message here is that Zach’s parents aren’t the “right” kind of Christian, so they won’t have the correct answers.) It’s not the almost-sex that I find unrealistic; it’s the proselytizing. Zach has to be one of the most easily manipulated kids ever. (Which, again, I understand why it seems that way here; he’s supposed to be listening to God, so it’s not the preaching that turns him, it’s his faith.)

There were plenty of other skeevy moments, including:

  • A boy going from “she’s cute but too young for me” almost immediately to “I love you so much we can’t ever be apart again even though we just met two days ago.” (We’re supposed to wholeheartedly believe that this is a God-designed and God-sanctioned union.)
  • EVERY talk with Joanna’s father. Every one. But especially the one about “bride price.”
  • Every word out of the mouths of Joanna and Zach are the same words every parent hears – “but I love him/her!” and “I won’t change my mind! I know this is right!” should make you laugh out loud with their naivete, but Joanna’s parents only buy it.
  • Zach wants to marry Joanna, and her parents go from eyeing him and not trusting him to hearing the Hallelujah Chorus when he says he wants their union. He even talks the dad into allowing her to be married at seventeen!
  • The mom is not so easily swayed…oh wait, yes she is. She has all of these (sound) reasons that she doesn’t want them to get married (Joanna isn’t even allowed to date, for corn’s sake!), but they are whisked away easily. After all, EVERYONE can see that God has brought them together, and their betrothal. (And this means that they are basically engaged.)
  • Zach goes to Colorado for an interview at a university and gets accepted, and he tells his parents that he’s not coming back home. His parents don’t blink an eye.
  • On her seventeenth birthday, he’s allowed to do the deed. They still aren’t married, but that’s what Joanna’s parents agreed to. But hey, God says they’re married, so, ok?

I could go on and on, mentioning the “feminine” observations that Zach makes or the voice of the book that sounds like a combination of your mom and a Sunday School teacher or the theme of “we’re only human, but here’s how to get around that,” but I can’t waste any more time on this horrible book. Ooh – except to mention the embarrassing factual title. There. I’m done.

Arousing Love: A Teen Novel by M. H. Strom was published January 1, 2012 by Marstro Press. This was a free book that I only read because it sounded so bad.

Rating: 1

Genre: Young Adult Christian Contemporary Fiction Romance
Ages: 13 and up

COYER Scavenger Hunt #12: Read any type of Romance Novel. (1 point)

COYER Beach Party Read-A-Thon

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